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March 2004 news and reviews

March 31
Sony eBook V2 Released

Peter iNova, author of the 'Sony Advanced Cyber Shot' eBook has recently released version 2.0, the new eBook adds detail for Sony's new V1 and F828 digital cameras. "I'm excited about the interactivity," said author Peter iNova, "Now direct image-to-image comparisons are just a mouse rollover or click away. And wait till you see what can be done with the Sony 828's RAW mode using NightShot!". Also included are custom iNovaFX Photoshop Actions created exclusively to the needs of the V1 and 828 cameras. eBook price is $49.95US.

Nikon Coolpix 5000 Firmware v1.8

Nikon Europe has today posted firmware Version 1.8 for the Coolpix 5000. This firmware update offers following improvements and additions, when the camera is turned on and off after selecting ON in the Fixed Aperture from Zoom Options in SET-UP 1 menu. When the camera is used in Manual exposure mode, the incorrect aperture information is displayed. This has now been corrected. As usual please read carefully the firmware installation information before installing the firmware update!

March 29
Sony F828 and T1 Firmware v2.0

Sony has posted firmware Version 2.0 for the DSC-F828 and DSC-T1. This firmware update resolves the same issues for both cameras, they are, a picture deleting issue using quick review function and pictures getting damaged when transferred from a PC to a camera via USB. For the T1 this update also adds PictBridge support. As usual please read carefully the firmware installation information before installing the firmware updates!

March 26
The GIMP Hits 2.0

Software: The GIMP developers are proud to release version 2.0 of the GIMP, the leading freely distributable program for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. This release is a major event, marking the end of a three year development cycle by a group of volunteers and enthusiasts who have made this the most professional release of the GIMP ever. It is the first stable release that is officially supported not only on Unix-based operating systems, but also on Microsoft Windows and Macintosh OS X.

Fookes Software Easy Imager 2.0

Software: Fookes Software has released Easy Imager 2.0, a powerful Windows application that makes it easy to display, manage, and batch-process images in all popular formats, and produce photo albums to suit every browser. New features in version 2.0 include integrated support for the innovative Zoomify image format, easy creation of full screen slide-shows and slide-show screensavers with professional transition effects, the ability to view image histograms, and support for stereoscopic 3D JPEG images and wireless bitmap images. Easy Imager 2.0 runs under Windows and costs $34.95, a free trial version is available.

March 24
Photodex ProShow Gold 2.0

Software: Photodex has today announced the release of the newest version of its slide show presentation product ProShow Gold. With version 2.0, ProShow Gold continues to be the only slide show presentation product that combines all output formats into a single application. This ‘Create once, Play anywhere’ approach provides the user unmatched flexibility. ProShow Gold 2.0 is priced at $69.95 and standard edition for $29.95, both for electronic delivery. Both versions provide a fully functional 15-day trial.

March 23
Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album 5 Beta

Software: Jasc has today announced the release of the public beta version of Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album 5. It has a completely redesigned interface that follows the digital camera user's workflows, with more options to view and organize photos, users can choose to view by file tree, favorite folders, calendar view, or keywords. Photo Album gives users the ability to switch quickly and easily between views. The public beta of Paint Shop Photo Album 5 is available for download on the Jasc Web site.

Creo Leaf Valeo Goes Wireless

Creo has today announced that their digital camera back system - the Leaf Valeo - is now wireless. This next generation Leaf Valeo is being introduced with a wireless display on two models: the Leaf Valeo 22Wi and the new Leaf Valeo 17Wi, with resolutions of 22 and 17 million pixels respectively. The new Leaf Valeo Wi family uses Bluetooth to accomplish two-way communication between the camera and the Leaf DP-67 (based on an HP iPAQ). Special offers are available for the purchase of the Leaf Valeo 22Wi and Leaf Valeo 17Wi systems.

March 20
Sanyo Xacti J4

Sanyo has recently announced its Xacti VPC-J4. The Xacti J4 has a 4 megapixel CCD that outputs 8 megapixel interpolated images, and a bright, 2.8x inner optical zoom lens (F2.7) achieves high-speed zooming in around 1.5 seconds. The Xacti J4 records VGA-size (640 x 480) video clips at 30 fps with simultaneous audio, for viewing quality equivalent to that of DVD. Another Xacti J4 advantage is the ability to use the zoom while shooting video clips.

March 19
Just posted! Sigma SD10 review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Sigma's new SD10 digital SLR. The SD10 is the successor to the SD9, it features a new and updated 10M X3 Foveon sensor which achieves higher sensitivity thanks to the addition of microlenses. There are also numerous other improvements to both the camera and Photo Pro RAW conversion software. See how the SD10 performed and how it stacks up to the current six megapixel digital SLR's.

March 18
Konica Minolta G600

CeBIT 2004: The latest camera on the compact six megapixel band wagon is Konica Minolta's G600, a resolution upgrade from from the G500 (which itself was based on the Konica KD-510 Zoom before the K-M merger). That out of the way the G600 does appear to have a new Signal Processing Engine and algorithm coined 'A*IPS'. "The new compact and fully-featured DiMAGE G600 is a value-packed, high performance digital camera at an affordable price," said Jon Sienkiewicz, vice president of marketing, Konica Minolta's Camera Division. "This new compact camera is ideal for every day snapshots as well as a second camera for serious amateur or professional photographers."

Three new Olympus digital cameras

CeBIT 2004: Olympus today announced two new digital cameras which will be available all around the world and one which will be only available in the UK. These three cameras will be known as the C-60 Zoom, C-460 Zoom del Sol (UK only) and C-160 (D-395 in the US). Probably the most interesting camera here is the C-60 Zoom which again is another six megapixel compact camera which started life as a five megapixel, a relatively simple 'drop in a new chip' upgrade for Olympus.

Kodak DCS Pro SLR/c, 14 mp, Canon mount

CeBIT 2004: Kodak today announced the all new DSC Pro SLR/c, a Canon mount version of the SLR/n which utilizes a new body made by Sigma (this isn't stated but is obvious). This announcement now brings Kodak back full circle to the 'good old' Kodak DCS days when they would have both a Nikon and Canon mount of each camera. Other than the obvious differences between a Nikon and Canon body there are also a few other subtle differences, the SLR/c is slightly smaller, has a 1/180 sec flash sync speed, a new AF system and a smaller LCD monitor. The SLR/c becomes the highest resolution Canon mount digital SLR, and a full 35 mm sensor to boot!

March 16
Olympus UK offer £200 trade-in to E-1

Following on from Olympus USA's move at the end of January Olympus UK has announced a £200 trade-in promotion on their digital SLR E-System. You can take any SLR camera, film or digital for a £200 rebate against the E-1 digital SLR body and 14-54 mm lens bundle. You can also choose if you wish not to take the £200 cash back but instead opt for an FL-50 flash, 50 mm macro lens, P-440 printer or 2 GB 40X Lexar Pro card. This offer is available at certified Olympus E-System dealers until April 30th 2004.

Three new lenses from Sigma

Sigma today announced three new lenses, an all new 18 - 125 mm F3.5 - F5.6 DC (designed specifically for digital SLR's) as well as putting some official specifications behind their recently announced 4/3 System lenses, the 18 - 50 mm F3.5 - F5.6 4/3 DC and the 55 - 200 mm F4.0 - F5.6 4/3 DC. The 18 - 125 mm will be of interest to all digital SLR owners as it offers a small, lightweight 7x zoom capability. The 18 - 50 mm and 55 - 200 mm 4/3 DC lenses should also be of interest to Olympus E-1 owners but in my opinion hint more towards a more 'affordable' 4/3 System digital SLR coming from Olympus in the not to distant future.

March 14
Pentax *ist D Remote Assistant

Pentax has announced the Pentax Remote Assistant camera control software to users of the Pentax *ist D digital SLR camera. Features include remote shutter release, uploading and filing of captured images and adjustment of basic and auxiliary functions. The software can be downloaded for free from the Pentax Web site from March 18, 2004, for Windows users and mid April for Macintosh users.

March 12
ACDSee Update 6.03

If like me you consider ACDSee to be the best image browser but have been disappointed by the recent buggy and bloated feeling version 6.0 you'll be very pleased to hear that ACD Systems has released an update which improves speed, reliability and solves several annoying problems. ACDSee 6.03 now feels almost as zippy as 'good old' version 3.1 with proper quick cached thumbnails and very fast image rendering. Kudos to ACD Systems for fixing these problems and addressing performance, although let it be a lesson to any software developer, don't ruin your software by bloating it out with features without addressing performance first.

March 11
Pentax OptioS30

Pentax has recently announced the OptioS30. Featuring a 3.2 effective megapixel CCD, a lens offering 3X optical zooming and with an attractive, hairline-textured aluminum exterior, it's also strikingly stylish. All buttons and controls have been located within easy reach from a ready-to-shoot position. The shutter release button has been enlarged for swift access, and buttons on the back of the camera have also been made bigger for easier control.

Epson R-D1 Digital Rangefinder Camera

Shown only in prototype form and behind glass at PMA this year Epson has today fully revealed their R-D1 'Rangefinder Digital Camera'. This camera has come out of a collaboration between Epson and Cosina, it supports Leica M mount and L mount with an adapter and has a six megapixel APS size sensor with an output image size of 3008 x 2000 pixels (which sounds to me like the sensor used by Nikon in the D100 & D70). Epson's timing for this announcement is the 2004 Photo Expo to be held in Tokyo between 19th and 21st March. This announcement has received a lot of attention from the Japanese websites who have lots of images of the camera, see inside for links. UPDATE: Specifications added.

March 9
Kodak Sues Sony Over Digital Camera Patents

Kodak has today filed a suit against Sony alleging that they infringed 10 of Kodak's patents related to digital photography. Kodak spokesman Gerard Meuchner said the lawsuit follows the failure of talks between the companies that Kodak hoped would produce a licensing pact. "We have attempted to resolve the matter with Sony for almost three years, and the discussion between us have not led to a suitable licensing agreement," he said. A Sony spokesman said he had just become aware of the suit and had no comment. (Reuters)

March 8
Pentax Watertight Optio43WR

Pentax has today announced its second generation fully-immersable digital camera -- the Optio43WR. Featuring a 4.0 megapixel CCD, 2.8X zoom lens (37-104mm eqiv.), and a JIS Class 7 waterproof rating that keeps the Optio43WR watertight even when the camera is rinsed, splashed or submersed in water (up to three feet). The Optio43WR features a new high-speed CCD and innovative image processing circuitry to record movies at 640 x 480 pixels and 30fps. The Optio43WR will ship to major camera retailers in June 2004.

March 6
Ricoh Caplio RX with world’s fastest shutter response

Ricoh has recently announced the release of the Caplio RX, a slim wide-angle 28mm digital camera that commands the world’s fastest shutter response time at only 0.12 seconds and quick start-up time. The Caplio RX is quicker, slimmer, lighter and even easier to use than its wide-angle lens predecessor the Caplio G4wide. The Caplio RX’s has a 3.24-megapixel CCD and a 3.6x optical zoom.

March 5
Rollei Introduces the Retro MiniDigi

Following the current trend for retro looking digital cameras, it seems that Rollei are showing a digital version of their classic 1929 Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex at PhotoExpo 2004 in Japan. The Rollei MiniDigi has a 2 megapixel CCD, a 9mm F2.8 fixed lens and uses SD card for storage. In keeping with the original the viewfinder/LCD is at the top. According to the Japanese news site PC Watch it is expected to sell for 39,800 Yen and will be available from May 21st.

Breeze PSRemote Version 1.2

Software: Breeze Systems today announced Breeze PSRemote Version 1.2 with support for Canon’s new PowerShot Pro1 camera, as well as the PowerShot A75, S500, S410 and SD110 announced by Canon at PMA. Chris Breeze explained, “PSRemote has been designed to learn the settings of PowerShot cameras when the camera is first connected. This usually enables the program to support new PowerShot models without modification.” PSRemote runs on Windows and costs US$49. A free trial version is available.

March 3
Philips’ Fluid Lenses

Philips Research at the CeBIT exhibition is demonstrating a unique variable-focus lens system that has no mechanical moving parts. Suited to a wide range of optical imaging applications, including digital cameras. Philips’ FluidFocus system mimics the action of the human eye using a fluid lens that alters its focal length by changing its shape. The new lens, which lends itself to high volume manufacturing, overcomes the fixed-focus disadvantages of many of today’s low-cost imaging systems.

Sigma working on Four Thirds lenses

Sigma today announced development of 18 - 50 mm F3.5 - F5.6 and 55 - 200 mm F4.0 - F5.6 lenses which will be compatible with the "Four Thirds System". The Four Thirds System was devised by Olympus as a new standard for lens interchangeable digital SLR's, it consists of a standard sensor size, lens mount and body to lens communication protocol. At PMA last month Olympus announced that Panasonic, Sanyo and Sigma had joined itself, Fujifilm and Kodak as the group of companies supporting the Four Thirds System. This is the first announcement from anyone other than Olympus who are producing compatible equipment.